Love, Amazon Style
by Anais and Idryth
An explosive sigh escaped her stocky frame soon after and one of her hands slapped a muscled thigh in frustration.
"Why in Artemis' name did I start this?" she queried the tree again, one hand coming up to smack against the rough bark with a dull thud.
A bird squawked at her from the tree and flew off chittering.
"Aw, I don't need that from you!" she sent after the winged noise maker. "I'm an Amazon warrior. She's an Amazon warrior. Warriors don't need romance!"
Whiskey-colored eyes watched a bit of bark as it broke off under the pressure of her hand and tumbled to the ground.
To the Amazon's everlasting surprise, a woman's voice replied to her question.
"Everyone needs romance, sweet cheeks!"
Eponin jumped away from the tree, drawing her sword in one smooth move and crouching low. Her heart was pounding with a ferocity that almost made her light headed. She had been alone, she knew it. What in ... "Who's there?"
With a burst of sparkles and light, a woman appeared next to the very tree that Eponin had been leaning on. Her pink diaphanous robe didn't even begin to cover the ruffled, and also quite pink, garments that covered the ... well ... important parts on the absolutely gorgeous platinum blonde woman.
Her jaw dropping in slow increments, along with her sword tip, several of Gabrielle's stories immediately came to mind and Eponin found herself with a flapping jaw and blinking eyes. "A ... Aaa ... Aaa ..."
Nose wrinkling up as she grinned, the woman spoke up again as her body shivered in glee. "Always gives me happy tingles to have this kind of affect on someone. Keep going, Amababe."
Not sure whether to fall on her knees, face or simply faint and take the choice away from herself, Eponin took a difficult breath and tried again, her voice spiraling into a higher range as she spoke,. "Aph... Aph ..ro .dite?"
"In the ever loving, and if I say so myself, gorgeous flesh! You go, girl!" Aphrodite sashayed her way from the tree and approached the Amazon.
Finding herself suddenly having problems with swallowing, Eponin licked her lips and tried to get some sort of control over herself. The cool hilt in her hand caught her attention first and she carefully leaned the sword against a handy rock, not interested in upsetting a goddess by waving a piece of metal in her face. 'Practical. Way to go, Poni,' ran through her mind.
"Can ... what ...?" Eponin let loose a deep breath and closed her eyes for a long moment but found it didn't help when all that got her was a closer Aphrodite who winked at her. 'Son of a bacchae!' "C.. can I help you with something?"
"I'm here to help you with something, darlin'. You need my help with your romantic date, don't you?"
Brows furrowed, the Amazon puzzled over that. "Your help?"
"Well, yeah!" Her shoulders shrugged. "Aphrodite's my name, romance is my game!"
The brows stayed furrowed. "I thought love was your game?"
Eyes rolling, the goddess replied, "And Ares said you Amazons didn't have a whole brain between you all."
Eponin's shock was washed away as if a bucket of cold water had been poured over her. 'Xena and Gabrielle do this all the time. Surely I can handle one fluffy, pink clad goddess!' "Ares said that?"
"Yeah. Said you were all losers who wouldn't know a good thing if it was handed to you in a silk package tied with gold thread. But what does he know?" Aphrodite eyed the Amazon before she moved back a step and put one hand on her hip.. "Hey! So, why don't I do a favor for Arty and prove him wrong, huh?"
"Yeah, you know. The bodacious babe with the arrows? Artemis."
"Artemis." Eponin swallowed hard at the mention of her beloved goddess.
Aphrodite craned her neck forward to look closely at Eponin. "You didn't bang your head against that tree before I got here did you?"
"Wha... ? No, no! Sorry, this is just a bit much for your every day Amazon. You know?" Eponin replied weakly.
Arphrodite giggled and her body moved right along with the tinkling sound. "Let's get your mind off that. So, what do you need help with for this date?" Dark blonde eyebrows rose suggestively. "A big, bouncy, heart shaped bed? Desserts? Slaves to carry your girl to you on a platter?"
Eponin's eyes got progressively wider as the list went on.
"Or how about...." Aphrodite began again.
"Wai ... wait, please!" Eponin interrupted, holding her hands out in front of her in an odd form of supplication. "I don't see Eph wanting anything like that. I ... this is just happening too fast."
"No problem! Okay, how about one of those awesome poets to make her swoon? There's this dude in Ephesus who can ..."
As she listened to Aphrodite extol the virtues of various poets, bards and who knows what else from every city in Greece, Eponin found her mind slipping inexorably to Ephiny. To the person that had brought her to that tree and, apparently, this goddess.
It had started out so innocently. A rare private dinner had turned into a discussion about Xena and Gabrielle. Were they or weren't they? Truth was that throughout the village, many a fire had died down with that question still circulating around it. Eponin had bet five dinars that they weren't and Ephiny had just laughed and doubled the bet.
From there, somehow they'd gotten on the subject of romance and had, of course, chuckled at the concept of Xena having even the slightest bit of romance in her hardened warrior's soul. Then they'd chuckled at their own lack of romantic endeavors. Realizing, in a sober moment, that they probably weren't quite so different from a certain tall, blue eyed Destroyer of Nations. At least in that department.
But, it had turned serious somewhere along the line. Ephiny, probably under the influence of one too many glasses of ale, or whatever it had been that she was drinking, had allowed herself to voice a desire for a bit of that romance. For someone to show her what she meant to them.
Somehow, Eponin knew with a certainty that she'd rarely experienced in her relationship with the Amazon regent, that this was important. That Ephiny needed this. That Ephiny needed her to show a side of herself that she'd never given to anyone. Ever.
And, she realized with startling clarity, Aphrodite's help could be invaluable. Her mind tumbled like a crazy rockslide swirling around out of control. The possibilities were endless and, even as the Amazon thought through it all, the goddess was still listing some of them. 'Could I impress her or what?' she thought, a smile twitching across her lips. 'Yeah.'
"Ok, Poni, I'm gonna have to hurt you when I get back." Ephiny snarled as she tripped over the overgrown brush. "Gods, why did she insist I replenish the herbs for the healer? One of the younger Amazons could have done this," she growled under her breath as she tripped for the third time in as many minutes.
Meanwhile back at the Amazon camp, Eponin was readying for Ephiny's return...
As the hazy purple and smoky pink colors filled the evening sky, Ephiny returned to the settlement. Her bags were filled with the peculiar herbs requested of her.
The encampment was oddly quiet. Other than the flickering of light given off by the campfires not yet extinguished, there were no signs of the usual activity.
Ephiny peered around looking for signs of a struggle or an errant warlord who didn't know he had been in Amazon territory. She found none. Quietly, she padded to her hut, feeling a little off-kilter and a lot on-guard by the eerie silence.
As she approached her quarters, an unfamiliar scent wafted on the wind and found its way to her. It was a mixture of the perfume of spring and ....food? Ephiny's stomach grumbled at the thought of food. She'd been out most of the day and didn't stop for even a drink of water during her hunt.
As she cautiously opened the door to her abode, she was puzzled. In the middle of the room was a soaking tub that had not been there before. Filled with steaming water with delicate flowers floating at the top, it was inviting her to jump in as soon as she could peel off her clothes.
She took in the rest of the room while she set her bags down. On the other side of the room was her dining table. It was laden with food enough to feed at least six people. In the middle of it all was a candle, its irregular light just barely highlighting the face that proudly stood behind the meal.
"Eponin...what? Who?" Ephiny stuttered, almost afraid to speak and break this dream that was surely a hallucination.
"Shhhhh..." Poni whispered as she approached. Standing behind the regent, she showed her dexterity and adroitness by quickly undressing Ephiny and leading her to the tub. 'I should have gotten a bigger tub so I could have joined her', Poni thought just a little to late to do anything about it.
The warm water enveloped Ephiny as she was slowly lowered into the small tub by the warrior. The fragrance she had noticed on her way to the hut came wafting up to fill her senses. She then remembered the food nearby and audibly reminded her of its presence.
With a wry grin, Eponin silently left Ephiny's side and sauntered to the feast and grabbed a few items. The reclining queen sat up to take some of the food being delivered to her.
"No, lay back, let me feed you," Eponin offered. With raised eyebrows and a slightly confused equilibrium, Ephiny offered no resistance and did as she was told.
The repast, originally thought to be enough for a group of six, apparently was just enough for two very hungry Amazons. As both the sated women sat quietly, enjoying the all too rare sounds of silence from the camp, Eponin's hands were lazily washing the remainder of the bath salts off Ephiny's back.
The bathwater, though now cool and no longer steaming, held Ephiny in its grasp. She was reluctant to let this closeness come to an end. She was afraid to speak and break the spell Eponin appeared to be under. Her pruned fingers gave proof of the time that had lapsed however.
Poni noticed the wrinkling and laughed. "I think it's probably time to get you out of this dirty water, Ephiny." Eponin reached for a piece of cloth to dry the regent and grabbed something hidden underneath it as well.
Poni stood and offered her hand in assistance. She held out the cloth with open arms and draped it over Ephiny as she stood.
She stepped gingerly out of the tub and went no further, not knowing what was going to be next. Suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, a single rose was held up and presented it to Ephiny. "This is for you, " the usual stolid warrior said shyly with a hint of a blush.
"Thank you," Ephiny broke her silence. "I hate to ask, but what is this all about? Why is it so quiet around here?" She waited for her answer while taking in the heady scent of the perfect rose bud.
"Well, the other day when we were talking, you said you wanted romance. I know I'm not the most romantic person in the world."
Ephiny snorted in response.
Eponin ignored the unregent-like sound and continued. "OK, I know I don't usually have a romantic bone in my body, but, I got to thinking. If something...someone...is worth it, well...uh...I...uh, think you are worth it. To me you are worth everything and I just thought I should show you that every now and then. So I thought of this and made everyone turn in early for a change." She shrugged, "I just wanted you to have a perfect date.I hope you liked it. " Eponin kept her eyes firmly fixed on Ephiny's feet, afraid for one of the few times in her life.
Had she looked up, she would have seen eyes that reflected pure love looking back at her. Ephiny lifted Poni's face to hers. Without saying a word, Ephiny offered a kiss in return then pulled her by the hand to show her how much she did, in fact, like the evening.
Hands folded across her chest, Artemis beamed a rather smug smile, filled with not a little satisfaction, at the obviously disgusted goddess of love.
Aphrodite was prowling through the offerings left to her in the beautifully decorated temple with a very unsatisfied air. "Useless!" she knocked one goblet on its side. "Flawed!" A large emerald bounced onto one of the tables and rolled away. "Look at this workmanship!" she cried and swept an intricately carved chest to the floor.
Pushing off the wall she'd been leaning against, Artemis said, "Guess it's a good thing those weren't part of the bet, huh?"
Flipping her hair, Aphrodite turned and placed both hands on her hips. "About the bet ..."
"Oh no, 'Dite. You're not getting out of this one. You made a bet and you're gonna stick by it."
"Oh, come on. You know it was just a joke." Aphrodite's blonde head tilted to one side and she smiled sweetly. "You know I wouldn't have made you pay up if you'd lost."
Artemis just laughed.
"Well, I wouldn't!"
"Oh please!" Artemis finally got out. "We both know that if you'd won, if Eponin had used your help for the date and not realized in time that true love doesn't need tricks and illusions that you would've been in my face right away."
Pursing her lips, Aphrodite shook her head and the ringlets of hair bounced. She waved a hand in the air as if her capitulation meant nothing to her and indicated the pile of offerings that were waiting for Artemis to sift through. "Well, go on then. As per the deal. Whatever can be carried without tricks."
Artemis could hear the other goddess' teeth grinding from where she stood and it took quite a feat of control for her to not laugh as her experienced eyes raked over the offerings, lingering on one or two. She walked over to the various stacks and picked up one beautifully crafted and perfectly balanced bow made of an unusual dark wood.
Turning with the bow in her hand, she smiled to herself as Aphrodite's eyes skittered away from the bow and the blonde affected an uncaring air. "This," she said as she held out the bow.
A tiny furrow appeared in Aphrodite's brow. "Just that?"
"Mmm....," the goddess of the hunt mused. "No. This and a future favor."
"Oh no! I don't do future favors, babe. Not this goddess!"
"Welllll," Artemis drawled. "If you want it that way but you said whatever can be carried without tricks. You didn't mention how many people could carry it."
Aphrodite's eyes flashed in anger. "Exsqueeze me! You know very well it was supposed to be just us!"
"Did we agree to that?"
"Well, no..." A look of pure frustration dropped over Aphrodite's face. "Arty! That's not fair and you know it."
"One little favor. I'll make it easy, it'll have to be something to do with one of my Amazons."
"Oh no, I'm not doing some weird mojo and making someone fall in love like that ...."
Aphrodite continued to tell her story.
"Sheesh. No need to yell," the goddess of love pouted.
Sighing, Artemis said, "It won't be anything weird. You have a promise on that. Maybe a favor for one of my queens or ... well, we'll see what good use it can be put to."
Speculatively eyeing Artemis, Aphrodite mulled this over. "Nothing against the other gods?" Before Artemis could reply, she continued, "or goddesses. I don't want someone mad at me."
"No tricks, no special clauses you're going to bring out?"
"No tricks or clauses."
"Nobody gets hurt?" the pink clad form moved closer to the other figure.
"Not from the favor anyway. Right," Artemis replied.
"Just a favor to do good?"
"Yeah. Who knows, maybe we'll change a life for the good or even save one. Who know when I'll need one of those favors."
Already thinking of the possibilities and eyeing her offerings with a surreptitious glance, Aphrodite smiled slightly to herself and then nodded. "One future favor, no tricks, only Amazons, no problems with the others. Agreed."
"Excellent." Artemis smiled already thinking about one of her Amazons that seemed to never be able to stay away from trouble and how valuable the favor might be if she, for whatever reasons, political or otherwise, wasn't able to help herself. "Nice going, Eponin. I knew you had it in you."
And, some distance away. Several full, fragrant and quite beautiful roses appeared in an etched vase behind two women who would notice ... eventually.
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